Misophonia at work becoming unbearable

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  • #8686 Reply
    Hannah

    I’m seated next to a colleague who eats with her mouth open and makes awful sloppy noises, slurp her drinks and burps. She yawns really loudly almost constantly too. The problem is she is constantly eating – I think she lacks social awareness. Anyway it’s making me really miserable. I feel such awful anger when it happens, my chest hurts and I feel nauseous. I really have to hold myself back from lashing out. I have to walk out whenever she comes in as I just can’t cope! I dread work now and it’s making me depressed. I’m sure my colleagues have noticed and I’m worried they think I’m being rude or nasty. I’ve never had a diagnosis of misophonia and my colleagues don’t know how this effects me. I would be so grateful for any suggestions or help.

    #8741 Reply
    Steeni

    Hi miso-friend!
    i’m about to go nuts. A young person sitting next to me has just chomped through a bage. Mouth open – chomping and slurping and making as much disgusting noise as possible. ARGHHHHHHHH!
    I am fighting the urge to grab the bagel and jam it down her throat.

    Anyway, the only thing that works for me, and it doesn’t work all the time, is to wear headphones. Invest in some noise cancelling headphones. Seriously do it. And to talk to your supervisor/manager so they understand. The research is still in its infancy, but the brains of individuals with misophonia process sounds differently. Give your supervisor/manager some information to read.
    Once I started talking about my expereinces I found others. A work colleague’s husband, a friend and her children, someone’s cousin. The more we share the more we find company.
    Also, I think what’s helped me too is accepting my condition and knowing that I need to either remove myself or manage the situation. For me this means avoiding quiet restaurants, music playing while eating at home (my family’s eating disgusts me) making rules where I can (eg no chewing gum in the car EVER) and managing my work and work space so that I do quiet work in a dedicated space (where no food is allowed) or at a time when no one else is around. This is where your supervisor/manager is important. Explaining your condition gives them an opportunity to help you and support you. I hate hot-desking, but it seems to be rolling out everywhere even though workers don’t like it. I would check your workplace policy around shared spaces. There is usually at least one space that is set aside for total quiet work, and should include the banning of food and beverage as well. Actually, I know of a workplace that BANNED EATING at the desk. It was to encourage workers to have a proper break, but it would also have other benfits.
    Good luck

    #1008757 Reply
    Becky Collins

    OH MY GOSH Bagels can be the absolute WORST. For some reason…that’s one of the worst foods. Unsure why people are so particularly smack-y when it comes to bagels.

    Here’s my predicament; luckily, gum isn’t too much of a problem at my job. It seems infrequent and fairly manageable in my current workspace. HOWEVER; my direct supervisor is NON-STOP tapping, humming, and singing. It’s maddening. She’s one of the most frenetic person I’ve ever met, and basically my worst nightmare. Unfortunately, these past 3 days have been an absolute HELL, at what should be my dream job…trying to cope with music, but the irregular yet constant tapping is making me insane, coupled with the humming.

    You know, the hum where there’s no song being hummed, but they’re just humming to feel the vibration in the throat.

    Send any help stat. Slowly dying. I hear you all and feel your pain. XOX

    #1008759 Reply
    Melanie

    I’m lucky in the sense that I’m a dispatcher and can take my radio outside when I need to escape certain triggering noises. But the downside is that if the phone is ringing off the hook, I have to stay inside and take care of both phone and the radio, I don’t have the luxury of being able to use earbuds. There have been a few times that I was literally losing it, I couldn’t function. Thankfully, a coworker took my radio and made me leave the office so I could get myself together.. maybe talk to someone you’re semi close to and ask if they would be willing to cover you for a few minutes. It really helped me when I was struggling, and I was able to come back and do my job.
    I think it’s very important to have people ‘on your side’ for those rare moments when you really can’t cope with your surroundings.

    #1008846 Reply
    CraigJ

    I call them tramps underneath my breath as a joke (gritted teeth), but loud enough for them to hear.

    #1008882 Reply
    TA

    Open office / shared meetings create the worst environment for us. I unfortunately suffered through work dealing with an open office space for a little over a year, and it made my triggers worse. I do not personally believe in trigger exposure therapy, my mind just started to react to more and more triggers. Eventually I left that job, but to my disappointment I was given an open office space at the new location. Because I was in the last row ‘away from people’ the person who hired me, who I told I couldn’t stand open office spaces, thought it would be fine for me. (Luckily that person no longer works there). Anyway, I went to a misophonia conference in Vegas that year where I met others with our condition and learned about some hearing aids that are blue tooth enabled that would allow me to play pink noise in the background, and by the grace of some higher power shinning down on me, the audiologist I found not only believed in misophonia she was working on the issue for her patients and wrote me a letter that I took to my employer and with it I was able to get a semi private office, which now is my own space. I have not completely healed of course, I will have this condition for life, but in the past few months that I have had space to go to where I can relax and not worry about so many triggers, my quality of life has drastically improved. I know it’s very hard to do, but first get the help you need to, there’s probably not many people you know who understand your condition, so finding others who do helped me, I suggest using this group and attending any conferences you can and finding an audiologist who can help. The first one I went to basically told me I had super great hearing and he didn’t believe in Misophonia, the one who helped me changed my life, I am so grateful for her work and others who are brave enough to advocate for people made like us. I wish you the best, please look out for yourself, protect yourself from potentially acquiring more triggers. It’s so hard to come back to a balance when you’re always fighting inside. Best of luck.

    #1008911 Reply
    CJ

    Hi, Hannah, try giving them a look of disgust as a joke every time they do it (best to appear in jest), hopefully this will make her more aware and try mend her ways. I pull a face and say “Urgh out loud for all to hear”. It works for me. Let’s know how you get on either way.

    #1008938 Reply
    Jessica

    Also having a lot of trouble with this. My desk touches the desk of one of the worst gum chewers I’ve ever seen. Such a nice person, but I can’t help get infuriated every single day because she chews probably 2-4 pieces on a regular day. It’s one of the only situations where I feel hopeless, like there is no escape because I’m stuck at this desk. I wear headphones about 6 hours a day now, which is causing my ears to ring/is generally uncomfortable at the office. I just wish there was some kind of therapy I could go to but everything I’ve found online is about avoiding sound, not helping the condition. I just feel like it’s ruining my life!!!

    #1008960 Reply
    Amanda

    I’m in the same boat. Writing this now in the midst of a raging panic attack. I’m really debating on walking out of the office and not coming back. I am in an office space with constant furious keyboard clicking, flip flop slapping, snack bag crinkling and pen clickers.

    #1009018 Reply
    Susan

    OMG! I feel like I am going to lose my mind at work! My co-worker, who sits directly behind me, is driving me insane! He makes CONSTANT noises at his desk ALL THROUGHOUT THE DAY! This is the short list: slurping coffee, clipping his nails (several times throughout the day!), constantly wiping his hand across his paper desk pad, making “blowing” noises (like he is blowing something off of his desk), he eats/chews with his mouth open (he eats like a pig/cow and then chokes/coughs continuously), he is so bored at work and watches youtube videos throughout the day and snort-laughs every few minutes, it sounds like water being poured down a drain when he drinks anything from a bottle, etc! TORTURE! I used to get up and deliver completed documents/projects as I completed my work – but now I try to “stockpile” as much as I can so I have a reason to leave my desk, and stay away for bit, every day when he get his lunch bag out. This at least helps me to miss some of his lunch eating. Although the rest is constant throughout the day! I can’t avoid my desk all day. I answer the phone so I can’t wear headphones. What to do? I have been at this job for 13 years. Co-worker used to have his own little separate office space but the boss wanted to keep a better eye on him so they moved him out to the general office area. I am a very sensitive person and I do not want to offend or hurt anyone. I just want it to stop. I can feel my blood pressure rising every time he makes his noises.

    #1009033 Reply
    CJ

    Does no one notice how adversely affected you are? Has anyone managed to reduce the bad habits of others?

    #1009035 Reply
    CJ

    Turn around and pull a face of disgust in jest. I find making a joke out of things is more effective than any other method.

    #1009047 Reply
    Susan

    I have tried the subtle (not so subtle) glaring look of disgust a few times but he is clueless or just does not care. I am on edge just “waiting” for the next noise!

    On a side note, since I am always “expecting” his noises I have found/realized that he MUST make a lot of noise no matter what he is doing. He can’t simply close his desk drawer he MUST slam it, he drops his stapler on his desk after using it instead of simply putting it down, he takes his calculator out and slams it on his desk and punches the keys SO HARD, etc. Everything he does is LOUD! He is hard of hearing in one ear, could that be part of the problem???

    Also, he has a habit of repeating himself several times in one conversation. It is nerve-wracking.

    I know the experts think that “we” are the ones with the problem but maybe it is the other way around? (Just a thought).

    #1009053 Reply

    Hi Susan, I guess another way to look at it is that we are the ones with the hypersensitivity, rather than the problem.

    If you have a room of a 100 people and only 2 people gets upset/panicked/enraged by certain noises (you and I), the evidence would suggest that the noises themselves are normal. What’s happening is that our sensitivity to these noises is 200%… 300% or 500% higher than the other 98 people in the room.

    So though it may feel as if the triggers are slams or punches or crashes or bangs that are being done to us, thoughtlessly or purposefully, they’re just everyday sounds that we have an extraordinary sensitivity to. That’s the reason why the people making the sounds are totally oblivious that they might be having an effect on others.

    I sometimes find it helpful, after a misophonic episode, to try and reflect and rationalise with myself. I ask myself questions like: “Is there be any rational motive for this person to make these sounds with the intent of upsetting me or others?” “Is anyone else in the room affected by this noise?” “Is this person vindictive, cruel or unkind towards me, or others, in any other way?” The answer is usually no on all counts (for me at least). That doesn’t make us bad or wrong or a problem – it just means we’re people who need to be aware of our sensory hypersensitivity and find ways to work with it.

    #1009059 Reply
    Susan

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    I don’t believe that the trigger noises are being made with the intent to upset me or others. But I simply cannot rationalize the behavior. It seems so obvious, to me, that eating with your mouth open/slurping/lip smacking are things that “civilized” people would not/should not do (Why do it? It sounds disgusting and he always ends up choking/coughing because of the way he is eating – I don’t understand this). And what could be the reason for clipping your nails several times a day at work (this is something that should be done at home, unless your nail broke/cracked during the day – but SEVERAL times per day?!). Etc.

    How do we deal with our hypersensitivity then? Especially at work where we spend most of our time?

    Also, as a side note, I am very sensitive in other ways (for example, I cry very easily, and have a great deal of empathy for others, etc.). Do you all feel this way as well? Is this somehow connected to a hypersensitivity to sound (just a thought)?

    Thank you for your time.

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